As the number of the religiously unaffiliated grows, now 23 percent of the population, churches should understand who the nones are and what they believe.
Using Pew Research’s most recent religious study, here is a demographic look at the average none.
- Male — 57 percent of the unaffiliated are men. Nones are the third most male religious group, behind Muslims (65 percent) and Hindu (62 percent).
- White — 68 percent are white. Part of that comes from 75 percent being at least three generations removed from immigrating to the U.S. Latinos, at 13 percent, make up the next largest percentage.
- Millennial — 44 percent were born in 1980 or later. When including members of Generation X, almost 3 in 4 nones (72 percent) are below the age of 50.
- Single — 37 percent have never been married. When combined with those who have been widowed or are divorced/separated, more than half (51 percent) of nones are unmarried. That’s grown from 44 percent in 2007. The low marriage numbers leads to few children. Almost 3 in 4 (74 percent) don’t have children.
- Irreligious—33 percent say they do not believe in God, up from 22 percent in 2007. In 2007, 60 percent were at least fairly certain God exists. Now, only 49 percent say the same. Around 1 in 3 (34 percent) say religion is at least somewhat important to their lives.
- Not practicing—They don’t go to religious services (72 percent say seldom or never), attend a small group (88 percent), read scripture (79 percent), or pray (62 percent). These aren’t “seekers” looking for a church.
- Votes Democratic—More than half (54 percent) say they at least lean toward voting for Democratic candidates. A plurality (39 percent) say they are politically liberal, with 36 percent saying they are more moderate. Only 18 percent consider themselves conservatives.
- Feels wonder—47 percent say they feel a sense of wonder about the universe at least once a week. That’s higher than mainline Protestants, Jews, historically black Protestants, and Catholics. It’s similar to evangelical Protestants.
Obviously not all nones match this demographic sketch, but churches should consider how they can begin to better reach the religiously unaffiliated in their neighborhood.